Technology and the City

CCT335H5 - LECO101
Tuesdays 1-3pm / J102


Greg J. Smith - (office hours by appointment)
Matthew Talsma - (office hours by appointment)
Technologist: Mark Galaskiewicz -

Syllabus PDF [Revised Jan 3]
- please note the grading scheme below for the up to date deadline information for labs/assignments

Course Description
Technology continues to reshape the physical contours of our built environments as much as it redefines our conceptualization of how we inhabit and interact within them. This course investigates how urban form, space, infrastructure and communication are mediated by new and evolving technologies. Some key questions we’ll consider: how is the city ‘read’ at the outset of the 21st century? How is it ‘played’, ‘remixed’, and ‘represented’? What do notions like “postindustrial society” and “information economy” mean to the space of urban life today?

‘Technology and the City’ aims to examine the technological structures involved in the organization of modern cities. The urban experience is always both real and imagined: how we move through the city always depends on our desires, expectations and our physical bodies. What role do technologies play in this negotiation? Our focus in ‘Technology and the City’ will be on the 21st century North American city. Using critical scholarship, web-based art, film, mapping and soundscape studies, students will study the interrelationships between emergent technologies, pathologies and patterns of everyday life.

In this class, students will be given the opportunity to explore some of the most influential technologies shaping the contemporary civic experience: new communication and information technologies, GIS and DIY cartography, digital imaging and recording, cinema and gaming. Such resources are not apolitical phenomena; in this course, we will consider how the politics, economics and environments through which we engage technology in turn enables or constrains democratic civic expression. The ramifications of State-controlled GIS, counter-cartography, seemingly chaotic urban noise, online community organizing and web activism will be considered. The embedded nature of ‘hidden’ technologies (e.g. sewer systems and waste disposal) that allow the seemingly free-floating urban lifestyles of millions will be given attention as well. Through critical reflection and active engagement, students will ask how they participate in the technological city – as consumers, designers and political actors.

Goals and Learning Objectives
This course is both theoretical and applied – two hour lectures, supplemented with guest speakers and screenings will be accompanied by lab exercises centered on ideas generated through readings and class debate. Students can expect to improve their understanding of contemporary urban techno-social transformations, develop their seminar discussion and analysis skills, explore new critical-theoretical frameworks, and produce new representations of urban space through engaging a variety of media.

Course Requirements
Students are expected to engage all facets of the course. If a student misses classwork it is their responsibility to catch up on related readings and lab exercises. While some documentation will be provided for lab sessions and weekly lectures, this material is not to be considered an adequate substitute for attendance.

In regards to the major writing assignment, students may use any formally recognized referencing style they wish – provided it is use correctly and consistently. Please note the ‘How not to Plagiarize’ document referenced in the Academic Integrity section below.

Teaching Materials
This course surveys a diverse range of interrelated topics. Given that ‘technology and the city’ is not organized around the structure of a key text, it is crucial that students work through and carefully consider the readings in advance of each lecture. Each week will feature a topical lecture, several opportunities for group discussion and related case studies and screenings. Each lecture will be followed by a lab session where the class works ‘hands on’ on related creative and technical exercises. Students will be expected to not only utilize, but engage various means of production to demonstrate their perspective on (and experience with) the urban environment.

Required Materials
This course does not require a textbook. Readings will be posted on the course wiki. Readings and screenings may be changed during the course of the semester and any alterations to this schedule will be announced in class and on the wiki.

Grading Scheme
Due Date
Photo Essay – Typology Study
Jan. 25th
Field Recording – Public Soundscapes
Feb. 8th
Essay Proposal
Feb. 15th
Neighbourhood Analysis
Mar. 1st

Mar. 29th
Mapping Assignment
Apr. 01

E-Culture Policy
Only student Utormail accounts should be used for course communication and all emails from students must include the course code in the subject line and should be signed with the full student name and student number.

The course wiki resides at students are expected to refer to it regularly for reference material, related links and tutorial information. The course will also require students to set up accounts with Google and SoundCloud in order to submit (and carry out) lab assignments.

Any technical questions should be asked in the discussion section of the course wiki rather then via private email sent to the instructor –that way the answer is available for the entire group.

Late Assignments, Extensions and Missed Term Tests
You are expected to complete assignments on time. There will be a penalty for lateness of 3% deducted per day and work that is not handed in one week after the due date will not be accepted.

As of September 2010, students are required to declare their absence on ROSI, in order to receive academic accommodation for any course work such as missed tests, late assignments, and final examinations. In addition to this policy, students must also adhere to the following CCIT policy after declaring an absence on ROSI.

Deadline extensions will be granted only for a compelling reason and with appropriate documentation and students should contact instructors immediately, and no later than the due date, if a deadline cannot be met.

Students who miss a term test for reasons entirely beyond their control (eg. illness or accident) must, within one week of the missed test, submit an official request to the INSTITUTE (not the instructor) by completing a Special Consideration Form that explains the reason for missing the test. This form can be picked up at any ICCIT Office and should be submitted to the CCIT Undergraduate Counsellor, Rose Antonio (CCT 3022) along with the ORIGINAL supporting documentation (eg. a medical certificate, death certificate, etc.). A departmental committee will review requests and students whose requests are approved will be contacted by the instructor via email.

It approval is granted by the INSTITUTE for a missed term test, the instructor will contact the student with the make up date for the missed test. This test will be within 2 weeks of the test and the instructor will try to provide 5-7 days notice before the test. Advance notice is sometimes not possible so students should be prepared to write a make up test any time after submitting a special consideration form.

Medical certificates or Doctor’s Notes must include the statement: “[Name of student] was unable to write the test on [date] for medical reasons.” Documentation must show that the physician was consulted within one day of the test. A statement merely confirming the report of an illness made by a student is not acceptable.

You are responsible for providing an accurate phone number and email address on your Special Consideration Form. Although the Undergraduate Counsellor and/or Instructor informs you by email, it is your responsibility to obtain the decision from the department. Claims that a departmental decision was not received will not be considered as reason for further consideration.

A student who misses a term test cannot subsequently petition for late withdrawal from the course without academic penalty on the grounds that he or she has had no term work returned before the drop date.

The Office of the Registrar handles all missed final exams.

Academic Integrity
From the Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters:
“It shall be an offence for a student knowingly:
(d) to represent as one's own any idea or expression of an idea or work of another in any academic examination or term test or in connection with any other form of academic work, i.e. to commit plagiarism.”
Wherever in the Code an offence is described as depending on "knowing", the offence shall likewise be deemed to have been committed if the person ought reasonably to have known.

Honesty and fairness are considered fundamental to the University’s mission, and, as a result, all those who violate those principles are dealt with as if they were damaging the integrity of the University itself. When students are suspected of cheating or a similar academic offence, they are typically surprised at how formal and seriously the matter is dealt with – and how severe the consequences can be if it is determined that cheating did occur. The University of Toronto treats academic offences very seriously. Students should note that copying, plagiarizing, or other forms of academic misconduct will not be tolerated. Any student caught engaging in such activities will be subject to academic discipline ranging from a mark of zero on the assignment, test or examination to dismissal from the University as outlined in the UTM calendar. Any student abetting or otherwise assisting in such misconduct will also be subject to academic penalties.

Students are assumed to be informed about plagiarism and are expected to read the handout, titled "Plagiarism and Reference Format". How Not to Plagiarize ( written by Margaret Procter. It is a valuable and succinct source of information on the topic. You are also supposed to be familiar, and considered as being familiar, with the Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters (see UTM Calendar: Codes and Policies or and Code of Student Conduct (, which spell out your rights, your duties and provide all the details on grading regulations and academic offenses at the University of Toronto.

[Note: If is being used in the course, this must be stated in the course outline. The following statement MUST be included in this outline when is used:
“Normally, students will be required to submit their course essays electronically to for review of textual similarity and detection of possible plagiarism. In doing so, students will allow essays to be included as source documents in the database, where they will be used solely for the purpose of detecting plagiarism. services are described on the website.”]

Classroom Management
Students are expected to come to class on time, turn off cell phones and pagers and to use laptops in class for note-taking only (not for web surfing, email, viewing movies etc.).

Religious Observance
Information about the University’s Policy on Scheduling of Classes and Examinations and Other Accommodations for Religious Observances is at

Other Resources

The University accommodates students with disabilities who have registered with the AccessAbility Resource Centre. Please let me know in advance, preferably in the first week of class, if you will require any accommodation on these grounds. To schedule a registration appointment with a disability advisor, please call the centre at 905-569-4699 or e-mail at:

Robert Gillespie Academic Skills Centre
Students can visit the Academic Skills Centre to consult with one of its strategists about understanding learning style, developing study plans for upcoming tests/exams, or discussing papers. Special Diagnostic Assessments are also offered and are designed to help you learn exactly where you stand with respect to critical academic skills.

UTM Library (Hazel McCallion Academic Learning Centre)
The University of Toronto boasts the biggest academic library in Canada and the second biggest in North America. Various services are available to students at the UTM Library and across the UofT library system. Services include borrowing, interlibrary loans, online references, laptop loans and the RBC Learning Commons. For more information, visit

Every attempt will be made to follow this syllabus, but its contents are subject to change, according to the rules as outlined in the UTM Instructor’s Handbook, section 3.2.2.